Even though we all had to figure out remote learning in the final quarter of last school year, this school year is new and unfamiliar all over again. The schools have worked hard to make sure that everyone is prepared with the tools and support they may need, but the logistics can be stressful to everyone involved.
Remote learning is our current method of learning, and there are ways that you can adapt to reduce the stress in your household. You have your own stress to deal with whether you are a stay-at-home parent or need to work at your place of employment. The balance of work and teaching your children will affect your stress levels, but your child is also struggling with something that they don’t understand. Stress will flare up, but with these three tips, you and your family will be more likely to deal with it better.
Just like any school year, organization is key. You need to have laptops charged before morning, clothes ready for Zoom meetings, and supplies for projects and assignments as needed. Being thoroughly organized can help you reduce stress in the home-based classroom.
Maintain a schedule. Bedtime should remain the same. Mealtime should still be served as a family as usual. You may be able to coordinate your work time with your child’s remote learning time. The difference with remote learning is that you are the one to schedule down time. What do kids like during the school day? Lunch, recess, and gym time (though not always in that order). The transitions between classes give them a mental break, and that needs to continue. If you are working at the office or remotely, you would benefit from the same breaks.
Physical activity is also important. Research shows how exercise releases endorphins, which help you feel better. Take the dog for a walk, plan on a visit to the park when the school work is done, or just have a fun dance party in between sessions. This can be scheduled or a way to release frustrations when any of you just have to walk away from an assignment or task.
If you haven’t already, designate a drawer in the cabinets or refrigerator for healthy snacks so that they don’t have to disturb you. Let them help you pick out great “brain foods” to keep close at hand instead of junk food that will slow them down.
If you are able to work remotely, you still have to figure out how you are going to complete your tasks and monitor your child’s work. Middle schoolers and high schoolers are more likely to work independently and communicate with their teachers when they have a question or concern about an assignment. Elementary students need more interaction and instruction, but they may finish their work sooner. Keeping them occupied will help keep the peace in the house when others are working.
One of the great teacher resources in a classroom is called a “Sub Tub.” This is a box for a substitute teacher with lessons, printouts, game ideas, and activities all in one place. You can stock a tote or basket of your own with educational games, printouts, activity books, and other things that are reserved for those times when your child needs to be stimulated and entertained, and when you are not available to work with them. Since these are not items they will use on a regular basis, it will keep the interest high.
Don’t forget the other resource at your child’s fingertips: the laptop. While this is not an encouragement to rush through work to go on to social media or video games, there are a number of resources that are child-appropriate. Ask an educator for websites that are age appropriate for your child that focus on math, grammar, typing, foreign language, and any other subject or skill. Current and former teachers as well as librarians can be great resources and can put you in the right direction. When you have these resources bookmarked, your child can destress while learning. At the same time, you may be able to relax or work with another child.
Another important resource for anyone in these times is someone to talk to. Other parents are going through the same thing you are. Talk to your friends to vent or to share ideas. Your child will also benefit from talking to a friend or classmate to see that they are not alone in their struggles.
We want our children to succeed academically, but the change in learning methods may dash their hopes for honor roll this first quarter. What are your expectations for your child? Are they realistic goals? Evaluate what you want to achieve this grading period and see if it is one of their stress triggers. Would you be able to expect yourself to achieve the same level if the playing field was completely different? Encourage organization and consistency over perfection so that your child can succeed in tackling remote learning, and then they may be the great student you know they can be.
How have you managed your stress during this school year so far? Share your tips and strategies with us!